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TransGlobe Publishing, Ltd.
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TransGlobe – Photography and Lifestyle

London Burning: Portraits from a Creative City
Editor: Hossein Amirsadeghi
Executive Editor: Maryam Eisler
Contributor: Gregor Muir
Photography: Robin Friend, Andrea Hamilton, Kate Martin

Hardback, 32 x 27 cm, 600pp.

A new sizzle is in the air across London’s creative sectors.

Having successfully surveyed the lives and workplaces of America’s and Britain’s contemporary visual artists in Sanctuary: Britain’s Artists and their Studios (2012) followed by Art Studio America: Contemporary Artist Spaces (2013), TransGlobe Publishing, in collaboration with Thames & Hudson, has embarked on a challenging new venture: London Burning: Portraits from a Creative City.

Having invented the Swinging ’60s, punk rock in the ’70s and Cool Britannia in the ’90s, London in the 2000s is firing up the engine of renewal yet again. The intention behind London Burning is to explore Britain’s capital as today’s international HQ for creativity and innovation. Commentators who have clocked the city’s sparking of change across architecture, cinema and theatre, literature, dance, fashion, media and music, technology, design, and the visual and culinary arts have barely scratched the surface. They have neglected to address the tribal dynamics that have always underpinned London’s creative scene; they have also avoided the key questions whose answers sum up the city’s unique drive. In a time of extreme economic challenges, why and how has London become a creative universe running off its own special brand of fuel? How does it continue to regenerate, to confound the naysayers who pop up every decade or so foretelling its decline? And where is it all heading, given the certain social, political and structural tectonic shifts looming ahead?

Two-thousand-year-old London has survived barbarians at its gates, Norman invaders up to no good, civil war, great fires and plagues, Nazi bombers and haphazard civic planning. The capital today is a cultural Molotov cocktail fuelled by hedonism, money, power and ethnic combustibility. The city, openly resented by many others throughout the UK, commands greater wealth than the rest of the country taken together. Quite a backdrop to London Burning’s hundred probing interviews and profiles, which introduce creative personalities young and old, highbrow and populist, Establishment figures and newbies, set against the variegated scenes they inhabit. The book draws on a broad spectrum of people both in the public eye and behind the scenes, among them Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate; sculptor Antony Gormley; Peter Ackroyd, London’s pre-eminent living chronicler; Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre; Alistair Spalding, Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells; and Gilbert & George, London’s quintessential artistic personalities. Other profilees include Alan Yentob, Creative Director of the BBC; Guy Ritchie, London’s own director-mensch; skyline-redefiner David Chipperfield; and Mathew Slotover, the founder of Frieze Art Fair. Groundbreaking chefs Fergus Henderson, Ruthie Rogers and Mark Hix; Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman; critic Jackie Wullschlager; multimedia Reith Lecturer Grayson Perry; conceptual guru Hans Ulrich Obrist; writer-ceramist nonpareil Edmund de Waal ... the list goes on. Add to that such young sparks as musician Tinie Tempah, actress Gemma Arterton, fashion designer Roksanda Illinic and performance artist Eddie Peake, to name but a few, and you can start to see why London comes first in today’s creative sweepstakes. Each four-, six- or eight-page profile is introduced by a unique portrait, followed by a lively conversational investigation into the soul and psyche of the profilee with a close focus on their particular brand of London-mania: their favoured haunts and neighbourhoods, their likes and dislikes, and, most importantly, the quirkiness that helps to define both output and character.

As an added bonus, London Burning evokes the city through the seasons, investigating its ever-spinning creative solar system through nearly seven hundred specially commissioned photographs. The urban scene is thus brought alive through the eyes, ears and even the noses of residents at its creative core, with hoteliers, rappers, ballerinas, restaurateurs and fashionistas enlivening the mix. Unlocking secret passions and embracing a range of lifestyles from the most outrageous to the most parochial, London Burning celebrates the feast of creativity being cooked by the people making tomorrow’s news.

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